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Flooding Risk in Rochford District made a political football by former Conservative candidate !!

September 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0638floodYou can read the Letter published in Friday’s Echo here.

Mr. Webb wrongly accuses  your two Independent Councillors of not attending a Council Meeting.

A Local resident has emailed to say that he has written to the Echo about Mr. Webb’s views that a cross party Flood Committee should now deal with with past and future local flooding events “This is the same party who voted to cover thousands of acres of land with concrete to build houses on which commonsense says will cause more flooding. Mike I live on planet earth where do you live?.”

Officers of the Council advised that The Flood Forum is technically an Advisory Group to Council Leader Cutmore who is the Decision Maker. BUT Council Leader Cutmore appointed ONLY Conservative Councillors to be Members of the Flood Forum. And any decision he makes on the advice given by his Conservative only Councillors cannot now be even “Called In” to Full Council for discussion.

So much for a “Cross Party” Committee as called for by Mr. Webb !”!”

Is Mr Webb saying that all 39 Members MUST attend, without fail despite illness, family and personal needs, every single Council Committee and Advisory Group Meeting, regardless of whether they are actually APPOINTED BY THE COUNCIL to those committees?

That would make every type of Council Meeting a FULL Council meeting where by COMPULSION all 39 attend?

That would make the CABINET system DEFUNCT saving may about £100,000 in ALLOWANCES for ONLY Conservative Councillors !!

Popular with Independents and the public but may be not so popular with the Conservative Party Mr. Webb !!!

 Here is the reply from the Independent Councillors to Mr.Webb and the Echo;

Wistaria Cottage
Hawkwell

29th August 2014

The letter from Mike Webb is breathtaking in the inaccuracies it contains. I totally agree that ‘all parties should be working together to try and resolve the problem’ of local flooding. Perhaps Mr Webb would have been better advised to ask this question of the Leader of the Conservatives at Rochford District Council who determined that the Flood Forum would only have Conservative members.

Rochford District Residents have not waited a year to hold a local meeting as have the Conservatives. Instead they led a well supported community initiative to clear the watercourses that were responsible for the flooding last August in Hawkwell West, last November. Indeed Mr Webb briefly turned up to assist on one of the days and used a photograph of his participation to aid his (failed) attempt to be elected to Rochford District Council for the Conservative Party. Not only that but Rochford District Resident’s Councillors filed a report to Rochford District Council last year detailing work the Council needs to do on its own land in relation to flood prevention. Despite reinforcement of this by the Environment Agency, a year later and still no work has been carried out to our knowledge.

Over the last few months both John and Christine Mason have been in regular contact in the form of site meetings and detailed discussions with the Environment Agency over the issue of implementation of the Surface Water Drainage scheme on the David Wilson Home site (which also abuts the water courses that flooded last year) and through our endeavours this has been checked and compliance with approvals ensured. All done prior to the postponed Flood Forum meeting! (Postponed due to further flooding that did not, thankfully, occur in Hawkwell West where the preventative work led by Rochford District Residents took place.)

If Mr Webb wants to criticise perhaps he could check his facts first? Out of 21 Council Wards how many did The Conservative Party agree could be represented on the Flood Forum and participate as full Members? Why only attack one Ward’s representatives? Why not include the other political groups i.e. Green Party, Labour, Liberal etc., why single out only Rochford District Residents? Or does a political motive have precedence over accuracy? If Mr. Webb intends to stand in Hawkwell West again in 2015 he should declare this so that this inaccurate attack be seen in its proper light.

Christine Mason,
District Councillor for Hawkwell West Ward
Notes:

As the General Public can attend any Council Meeting it follows that any Member of Rochford District Council can attend but each Advisory Group/Committee etc has appointed Members who ONLY have a RIGHT to speak and participate.

All Members of the Council COULD attend, like the Public, but all Members were not INVITED to attend as Members of the Flood Forum and to say this would be INCORRECT.

 

Flooding Prevention Versus Finance – “The Winner is………….”

December 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

head_in_the_sandOn the 17th December Rochford District Council formally adopted the revised budgetary estimates for 2013/2014.

We noted that the provision of £10,000 for Sewers and Ditch clearance, which presumably if spent may have eliminated or prevented some of the flooding experienced by residents in August, has been reduced to NIL!  Only £595 was spent in the previous financial year which makes us wonder why the budget was hiked so high and then not used.

Yet when the rains came on the 24th August the advice given by the Leader of the Council on TV  was for residents to go out and buy sand bags.  In our view the money budgeted could have been either used as proposed, used for sand bags or not put into the budget at all.

Whilst we prefer that Riparian Owners keep the land adjoining watercourses that they are responsible for clear of debris and the watercourse free flowing we accept that many Riparian Owners do not have the financial or physical means to achieve this which is why, in Hawkwell West,  we arranged for the Community at large to assist affected residents last month.  As Ward Councillors John and I led this very successful and rewarding couple of days and not only achieved the aim of clearing vegetation and other debris but also helped forge Community bonds.

We are curious as to the future intentions of the Rochford District Council.

Has the Council removed this Budget item only to reinstate it later or will other District Councillors follow our example and help the residents in their Wards themselves by organising flood prevention work?

Read the answer from the Leader of Rochford District Council, Councillor Cutmore (also an Essex County Councillor where ECC does have responsibility for flood prevention).

Flood victims’ anger

Flood victims’ anger at council bigwigs

Echo Wednesday January 1, 2014

We sent a Report on Hawkwell West Flood Risk to the new Chief Executive, Amar Dave, on 8 December pointing out that work needed to be done on Council land adjoining Clements Hall Leisure Centre. This is in Flood Zone 3 and is upstream of the areas that flooded in August . On 17 December, the Council cancelled a £10,000 Budget which Councillor Cutmore states is for ““The budget for sewers and ditch clearance was specifically set aside for those on Rochford District Council land that we have responsibility for.” We are now asking if this work will be done or not?

Councillor Cutmore also told the Echo “As a local authority, we are also looking ahead to see what else we can do in the future to help residents in situations like this and we are currently working on an improved flood plan.”

But……………………

The Environment Agency says on its Web Site “Local authorities have powers to manage local flood risk only if they are lead local flood authorities under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. These include county councils and unitary authorities, but do not include district councils.

Update on Flood Prevention Work In The Vicinity of Rectory Road

December 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 DSCF0749Hawkwell Brook 8th December 2013

As organised by us the length of the Brook from Windsor Gardens to the end of the field adjoining Clements Hall was cleared by volunteers on the Weekend 30th Nov/1st Dec.  Thanks to everyone involved.  Certainly we were relieved that no further problems occurred on Friday when a similar flood warning was sounded.

Yesterday John and I walked along the Brook up to Thorpe Close and noted the work that needs to be done by the local land owners.  As these riparian owners are commercial organisations we have submitted a report to our new Chief Executive so that he can arrange for the appropriate work to be undertaken as appropriate.

Our main concern was the allegation from a  resident that David Wilson Homes/Barratts have been pumping water into the Brook and we have asked for this to be investigated.

The other concern was the silting up of the higher level of the Brook as this will be near to the new David Wilson Homes/Barratts Homes.

The amount of work needed to provide the same level of clearance that the volunteers achieved downstream is small and we are optimistic that this will be done soon so that the risk of flooding is reduced and peace of mind is achieved for local residents.

DSCF0733 DSCF0737 DSCF0739 DSCF0748

 

 

David Wilson Homes “hopes” to reopen a temporary path through Thorpe Road by Christmas – Quote – Unquote

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

DSCF0417Reported in the Echo 6 December 2013

Update on our Article, Thorpe Road Closure with less than 24 hrs Notice

A FOOTPATH which was closed,leaving residents with a half-mile detour to reach village amenities looks set to be reopened by Christmas.

The path at the unmade end of Thorpe Road, Hockley, was shut unexpectedly in October, as part of a development for 175 homes in the village.

The closure meant residents had to walk half-a-mile along narrow pavements on Main Road or Rectory Road to reach shops, a doctor’s surgery and Greensward and Westerings schools. At the time, the move left residents angry at the lack of communication from developers David Wilson Homes, who had told residents the path wouldn’t be shut and access would be maintained at all times.

Now, after intervention from County Hall, the path looks set to reopen.

Following a meeting with developers,a spokesman for Essex County Council said: “The developer was understanding and supportive of the council’s desire to have access through Thorpe Road fully restored for pedestrians as soon as possible. “An alternative diversion within the site is being considered by the developer, which will direct pedestrians from the north of Thorpe Road, and to the east of the site to join with the southern part of Thorpe Road.”

“A spokeswoman for David Wilson Homes confirmed that it hoped to reopen a temporary path by Christmas.”

Comment from District Councillors John and Christine Mason

“Let us hope that the promise made by Barratts is fulfilled because this has caused problems for residents for over a month now and by Christmas  is another month”  

“Whilst welcoming the position negotiated by Essex County Council Officers this has only been achieved after protest by Councillors and Residents.” 

“Essex County Council should never have allowed the agreement that it would not be closed to pedestrians, agreed with District Councillors by ECC and Barratts, to be reneged upon in the first place.” 

Flood Warning !!

December 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

flood_alertEnvironment Agency Warning Page – Updates Regularly

Echo Feature Article on Hawkwell Flood Prevention

Echo Feature Article on Hawkwell DIY Flood Plan 

Just in the nick of time-page-001

“People Power” or How Residents Can Carry Out DIY Flood Prevention

December 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

2013-11-30 10.27.21_DCEHawkwell Brook Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December

As featured in the ECHO DIY Flood Plan

No one told us how physically hard flood prevention would be.  John and I ache in muscles that “we did not know that we had and probably have not got”!  (Christine was heard saying “Charlie Dimmock I am not.  (Certainly John is not!))  That said it is a lot cheaper and more rewarding than the gym.

Saturday dawned cold, bright and above all dry.  Nearly 40 people turned up over the course of the session, it was impossible to keep track of everyone but all set to with a will.  Father and Son, Mother and Daughter, Family and friends from age 8 to 80 every one did what they could and more.

2013-11-30 13.39.04_DCE

 

As someone said the camaraderie was fantastic and they got to know their neighbours better.  The community support has been staggering from Rochford Hundred Rugby Club members to school children, young and old, fit and less physically able, residents and ‘outsiders’ side by side.  Some residents who could not help provided tea, coffee and biscuits for the volunteers, one lady brought round a tray of cakes.  Everyone has contributed. As tired limbs were failing we were further encouraged by the Rochford Hundred Rugby Club members who came along after their commitments and finished of the stretch we were all working on.  A massive improvement but better was yet to come.  Sunday saw more members of the Rochford Hundred Rugby Club and their strength and abilities saw the task finished.    With the support of yet more tea and cakes!

 

2013-11-30 10.27.27_DCE

As a Community, Hawkwell West owes a great deal to these willing volunteers for their assistance with this project, but we can also congratulate ourselves.   Let us hope that those residents that were so adversely affected by the floods can now approach winter with a greater sense of peace and that this effort will achieve its aim of helping to prevent a repetition of the August floods.  Everyone has contributed.  Our Hawkwell West Community has proved that the spirit of community is alive and well.

2013-12-01 10.25.14_DCE

 

 

2013-11-30 10.27.48_DCE

Thanks to Rochford District Council for the Gloves and Rubbish collection, DWH for the loan of two wheelbarrows and forks, Southend Hospital for the Hand Cleanser, Everyone who helped and…………………

Special Thanks to Rochford Hundred Rugby Club Members.

2013-12-01 11.15.34_DCE

2013-12-01 11.54.35_DCE

VOLUNTEERS WANTED TO HELP WITH FLOOD PREVENTION IN RECTORY ROAD

October 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Discussing Water Rights.preview30TH November: 10 am

1st December: 10 am

Meet at junction of Windsor Gardens & Rectory Road

The Problem: In August our area suffered flooding when the Hawkwell Brook overflowed as a result of the heavy rain and high tide.  Many of those worse affected were frail or elderly and have become fearful of a repeat situation.

The Situation: Generally, the owners of the land adjoining a watercourse are responsible for keeping the passage clear.  In the past the Water Authority cleared this on occasion but in recent years they have left this to the adjoining landowners.  Unfortunately, many landowners are unaware of their responsibility or are unable to deal with the debris and growth.

The Resolution: We are asking residents to come together and help clear the vegetation around the Brook, starting at Windsor Gardens and working back to Clements Hall. Once the vegetation has been cleared, this should allow water to flow more freely to where it passes onto farmland and no longer threatens property.

Equipment Needed (Please raid your sheds!)

∙ Thick Gloves ∙ Secateurs ∙ Shears ∙ Sacks ∙ Wheelbarrows/Containers

If you can help please call 01702 204377 or write to us at Wistaria Cottage.

The Planned Action:

∙ Mick Purkiss (the farmer) has offered to remove as much vegetation as possible during November with his hedge cutter.

∙ Rochford District Council are providing large bins for us to fill with green debris

∙ Rochford Hundred Rugby Club and a local Church have offered their help

∙ We ask for your help cutting back vegetation or transporting it to the bins

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: When working in areas such as the Brook there is always a risk of Weil’s Disease. Please be aware and take precautions, you may also want to check your tetanus is up to date. Sensible footwear is a must.

 PLEASE BE AWARE THIS ACTIVITY IS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Let us all work together and show that Hawkwell still enjoys a real community spirit.

Flooding – Rights and Responsibilities

October 5, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Discussing Water Rights.previewAfter the recent flooding and observing first-hand the distress and damage caused to affected individuals and the general confusion that was created I decided to look into the general situation with a particular regard to our own Ward.

Hawkwell West is criss-crossed with drainage ditches, brooks and streams.

Generally speaking the water will flow through the ground and enter these water courses slowly finally exiting into the sea via the River Roach. Very heavy rain may cause surface water, which should lead into these water courses and so out of harm’s way.

Hawkwell Flooding 2013

 Quite a few activities that we take for granted affect this

 Firstly older properties do not commonly have a separate surface water  drainage system so the surface, storm (rain) water is channelled into the main  sewers. In the recent rains a main sewer that crosses our property was up  about 10 feet in height, 1 inch from over-spilling.

Clearance of land for building or other purposes also speeds up the movement  of water as it is no longer inhibited or used by vegetation. Although all new  buildings now have to have a surface water drainage system and on large sites,  an overflow/retention arrangement put in place [SUDS tank or pond/lagoon] there is a risky interim time between the clearance of the land and the installation of surface water drainage that could potentially cause problems for the surrounding area. This is due to larger amounts of water than usual flowing to neighbouring areas and at much greater speed.

Lastly the tide; As all water courses tend to ultimately end up in the sea high tide inhibits the discharge.

So who is responsible for what? And do any rights compensate for this responsibility?

A watercourse is defined as any channel through which water flows and can be open or enclosed underground as a culvert.

Whilst the Environment Agency is responsible for main, or designated, rivers all other watercourses are the responsibility of the Riparian Owner……………

Not a term that we hear very often but one that I think we are going to become more aware of as weather variations continue to increase the risk of flooding.

A Riparian Owner owns the land adjoining a watercourse and the law presumes an ownership to the centre of the water course. The Riparian Owner is deemed to be responsible for the maintenance and water flow where the watercourse borders your land and in extreme circumstances could face legal action.

riparian

However you do have the right of access to the water and also generally the right to use it for irrigation for your own use as long as you do not dam or channel the water for this purpose and it is only extracted from below the normal water level. You also have the right to protect your property from flooding (it is not specified how!) and to prevent erosion of the watercourse banks!

 

Not a great trade off!

John and I are aware that many of the residents affected by this are elderly and are in the process of trying to arrange some community activity to assist some of them.
If you wish to read further these documents will clarify and expand the above information.

• The Public Health Act 1936
• The Land Drainage Acts of 1991 &1994
• Water Resources Act 1991
• National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency) Land Drainage Byelaws 1981
• Flooding and Water Management Act

Love thy Neighbour

August 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Rectory Road Hawkwell

Despite our concerns about the new Barratts/David Wilson Homes development when an invitation to their new Show Homes launch arrived in the post unexpectedly we decided to be open minded and as a family member is house hunting for such a property Saturday morning saw us at the Sales Office (still no permission for the copious advertising and lighting but that is another story).

It was pouring with rain but the car park was full, including of all things an ice cream trolley and some tables, indeed the only umbrella on site appeared to be the one protecting the ice cream container!

Nevertheless we persisted and parked in Thorpe Road – sorry residents – braved the torrential rain and darted along the path to the sales office.  Had we an appointment?  No!  Alas I had failed to turn the card over and see that we were invited to call and make an appointment………..Nevertheless we were advised we could look around the Show Homes and told to follow the path.  We did.

The first house was a three bedded one (nice, neat and well presented) but the rain appeared to make a weird glugging sound emit from the plug hole in the kitchen which caused some confusion and hilarity.

By now we were so wet that we decided we may as well drip over the other house as well.  Four bedded and again well presented although a bit unnerving that the electrics kept switching on and off on their own accord, however teething problems that I am sure will be corrected.

Back to the Sales Office where tea and cup cakes seemed to be the order of the day; but not for us.

hmm, some sort of raspberry cupcakes

Perhaps you needed to have an appointment to be offered those!

Soaking wet we had to run back to the car and return home for dry clothes.  Note to Barratts: perhaps a few brolly’s for use of customers  might be a good investment if you are expecting potential buyers to undertake unconducted viewing in wet weather.

Our day meandered as most Saturdays do via food and shops but when we returned home we were concerned to see that the Brook behind our house was over the bank and up to the fence and our neighbours had potential issues as part of Rectory Road is very low and the torrential rain plus high tide (the Brook eventually runs into the sea and is consequently affected by the tides).

Several properties were affected and some flooded.

John could not get through on the Council’s emergency number  and the emergency services were inundated and only concerned if there was risk to life.  Although the Police agreed we could ask drivers to turn back due to the problems the wash was causing although they did imply people might be difficult.  Surley not thought I, homes at risk, potential untold distress and misery, no one would be that callous.  Wrong.

Rectory Road was flooded at the junction with Windsor Gardens and for some considerable length and the water levels rising.  Unfortunately motorists driving through the flood waters aggravated the problem sending the flood waters back towards the properties in a strong surge.  Some properties had air bricks covered and were literally an inch away from flooding.  Some have flooded.  My heart goes out to those residents affected.

Local residents were doing all that they could to support each other but the motorists seemed to be in their own protective bubble, more concerned with their own journey and some obviously relishing the mess and mayhem that they were creating.  One (local) tractor came tearing along and when asked to slow down speeded up creating a wave of over 6 inches (I know my wellies got flooded).  After that we discovered another property under water.  Generally though most motorists understood and were helpful, a big thank you to those drivers who offered to park up and walk or turned around.   After a while the water started to recede and we merely had to ask traffic to drive slowly.  A big thank you to all those neighbours who tried to help each other and themselves and for those who thought it did not matter remember it could be you needing help another time………..

Hawkwell Flooding 2013

Hawkwell Flooding 2013

Rectory Road Hawkwell

Rectory Road Hawkwell

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